It’s too early to get our hopes up for sustained Senate bipartisanship, but just before 6 p.m. tonight, five Republicans joined 57 Democrats to invoke cloture on Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) amendment to the House jobs bill, H.R.2847. Newly elected Scott Brown (R-MA), Kit Bond (R-MO), Sue Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snow (R-ME), and George Voinovitch (R-OH) voted with the Democrats. Ben Nelson (D-NE) was the only Democrat to vote with the Republicans. Not voting were Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who is hospitalized for stomach cancer, and eight Republicans, who ducked the vote. So far, Reid’s amendment would be limited to $12 b. FY10-FY12, and it’s “paid for” over 10 years, but amendments could add to that, and it will grow larger in any compromise with the House’s $65 b. FY10-FY19 bill.
I’m not a big fan of throwing money at job creation because too much is spent ineffectively or too late, but I am concerned enough about declining economic growth in the second half of this year to believe that additional stimulus is warranted. The Fed is going to stop buying mortgage backed securities at the end of next month, several million mortgage foreclosures will be finalized during the second half, commercial real estate will continue its decline, and banks remain reluctant to lend,
I am hopeful that the Senate can continue to find ways to hammer out bipartisan compromises on these issues which cry out for legislation:
1. Jobs bill
2. Deficit reduction for FY12 and beyond
3. Already expired:
- Estate Tax, currently repealed, but jumping to 2001 law in 2011
- 71 other expired tax provisions, including the R&D tax credit.
4. About to expire:
- Highway authorization
- flood insurance
- postponement of the 21% cut in Medicare physician reimbursement rates
5. Defense supplemental to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
6. budget resolution
7. Confirm non-controversial judges and other presidential appointees on “hold” for reasons having nothing to do with their qualifications.
8. Financial reforms